Human Behavior and the Social Environment

Part A: Bio-Psycho-Social Assessment

Presenting Problem

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In the assessment, the problem that finally motivated Dalia’s parents to seek professional help was Dalia’s school, raising concern about Dalia’s behavior. The school was concerned that Dalia had developed a behavior of arguing with persons in authority, engaged in physical altercations with her peers, concentrated poorly in class, had an irritable mood, and always reacted with verbal combat whenever she was confronted about her changing behavior. The school also reported that that Dalia had missed school severally with no justified reason and that her sexual conduct with male peers was also escalating. Dalia’s parents had also noted similar behaviors at school, including being more argumentative, highly irritable, and physically threatening. Moreover, Dalia spent most of the day sleeping and stayed awake during the night. They also noted that she had drunk alcohol in their home with her friends. Moreover, Dalia had become extremely impulsive and refused to engage in extracurricular activities claiming that the events were “corny and boring.”

Demographic Information

Dalia is a 14-year-old girl in a family of five. She is biracial, born to American parents but one with an African origin while the other has Irish origin. She has an elder brother and sister, both of whom no longer live with the family.

Current Living situation

Dalia lives with her parents after her brother and sister moved out, thus making her the only child at home. The family lives in a middle-class suburb. Her father works in the creative arts field and has a non-traditional work schedule, which makes him go to work at night and sleeps until late in the morning. On the other hand, her mother is an executive who spends most of her time at work.

Birth and Development History.

According to her parents, Dalia was an easygoing and good-natured person until she joined the middle school. She enjoyed singing and participated in activities with her peers and family. After joining a middle school, her character changed slightly, and she began drinking with friends and would also not engage in extracurricular activities.

School and Social Relationships

Dalia was brought for counseling after the school recommended so. Her behavior in school had changed drastically. The school complained that Dalia engaged in arguments with persons in authority continuously. She had also participated in physical altercations with his peers, and she had become very combative whenever she was confronted with her behavior. Besides, Dalia engaged in highly sexualized behavior with male peers. She claims that the school believes that her sister was better than her, and the teachers always wanted her to behave like her sister.

Family Members and Relationships

Dalia explains the relationship with her family members as tense. She thinks that her father gives all the freedom she wants. On the contrary, she claims that her mother is always trying to control her. She describes her relationship with her elder brother, who lives in a different state, as cool while the relationship between her and her older sister, who is a college sophomore, is not cool.  Dalia’s parents claim that she has become more argumentative and physically threatening. She claims that her relationship with her parents changed after her elder sister moved out.

Health and Medical Issues

Dalia indicates that she is generally stable at the moment. However, as a child, she was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia and was hospitalized severally. Her last episode of sickness was experienced two years earlier before going for counseling. She claims to have no problems with drugs or alcohol but acknowledges that she drunk with friends.  

Spiritual Development

Dalia was a good-natured individual before joining the middle school, and she enjoyed singing and participating in activities with the family or her peers.

Social, community, and recreational activities

Dalia claims that extracurricular activities are boring and thus no longer participates in them.  

Client strengths, Capacities, and Resources

Dalia’s strengthens include willingness to change and she is enthusiastic.

Part B: Analysis of Assessment.

Challenges faced by the Client

Substance and Drug Abuse

Dalia denies using drugs, but she accepts that she drunk with friends at her parents’ house. Alcohol abuse is a significant problem that parents of adolescents have to deal with today. Dalia’s drinking can be due to several reasons, including peer pressure. Adolescents tend to take risks before they reach the legal age. Dalia may have developed poor self-esteem when her older sister moved out. She claims that her parents changed immediately; her sister moved out. The claim is an indication of low self-esteem, and she may turn to drink to deal with her feelings.

Behavioral Changes.

Both Dalia’s parents and the school have noticed changes in her behavior.  Experts believe that overwhelming emotions can result in impulsive behavior and can be harmful to both children and society. Dalia is in the adolescence stage, and she is likely to be exercising her independence. As a result, she might be questioning the parents’ rules. Besides, the current development in her brain may her moody and difficult to handle.  She may be trying new things and taking risks that may cause her to behave carelessly. Moreover, hormonal imbalance may have made her irritable and in a defensive mode, which makes her combative to whoever confronts her. Dalia also seems to have a bad company which is encouraging her to adapt a dangerous lifestyle like drinking alcohol and engage in sexual behaviors with male peers.

Education Challenges

Dalia seems to be struggling with her education too as the teachers comp[lain about her poor concentration in class. She complains that her teachers compare her with her sister, which makes her feel unsuccessful. The pressure to match her sister’s performance in school is likely to stress her to the extent of making her moody. Conversely, failing to achieve the school’s expectations of her may also make her give up and develop a combative attitude against any concerned individual. Distractions at school such as male friends may also affect Dalia concentration in class and hence poor performance.

Psychological problems

Dalia seems to suffer from low self-esteem or confidence issues.  She complains that the family changed when her older sister went to college. According to her, the parents stopped being present and available, and she spent most of the time alone. Moreover, her behavior was under more scrutiny, which shows that her parents were more suspicious, unlike the situation with the sister. From Dalia’s statement, she feels like her parents prioritized her sister over her. Likewise, the teachers seem to communicate to Dalia that she is inferior and that she needs to improve and be like her sister. The stress and pressure can cause Dalia anxiety-related issues and consequently, oppositional defiant disorder.

Addiction to cyberspace

Dalia’s failure to sleep at night and excess sleep during the day may be as a result of addiction to cyberspace. She maybe spends too much on internet texting, talking, or playing to the extent of not getting time to interact with her parents. Cyberspace addiction may impact negatively on her academic performance.  

Social problems

Dalia is in the adolescence stage, and she is beginning to be attracted to the opposite sex, which may make her feel awkward in social situations. Dalia may be getting attracted to male peers, yet she does not know how to deal with it, and the parents are not present to help her out. Her social cycle has also expanded and might be interacting with more people physically or online. As a result, she might be spending much time at night on the internet, interacting and seeking ways on how to handle relations. Unfortunately, the internet is likely to lead her into more harm than good and hence, her sexual orientation with her peers.

Ways in which the Social Environment affects the Client

Factors in the social environment that are crucial in the development of children in the adolescent stage include those related to violence and social disorder in general. More specific factors related to the type, quality, and stability of social connections, which include social participation, social cohesion, collective efficacy of the neighborhood environment. Social participation and integration are crucial to both mental and physical well-being. In the case of Dalia, social integration and participation in school have negatively impacted her behavior towards teachers. Since she believes that her teachers think she is inferior compared to her sister, Dalia has developed a combative behavior towards anyone who wants to correct her.  

Moreover, the teachers mention that she is engaging in sexual relations with male peers. The stability of social connections such as the members and stability of households also affects the physical and mental health. The composition structure and the stability of Dalia’s family affect how she behaves. Dalia’s father allows her to do whatever she wants, which seems like excess freedom. Conversely, the mother wants to control everything she does, thus limiting her freedom. The different conditions from her parents are likely to affect her relations with people and hence a change in behavior. The idea is an indication of two parents who are not in agreement on how to raise their child, which may force Dalia to turn to alternative options like the internet to seek guidance.  Family disagreements in front of children may also affect how a child behaves since children do whatever they see happen in their surroundings. The parents disagree during a counseling session in front of Dalia, and that may influence how Dalia reacts towards either of them. Dalia’s threatening act, maybe as a result of seeing the parents exchange words with each other in front of her.

Social Theories and their Impact on Dalia’s Case

Symbolic Interactionism

The symbolic interaction theory is based on the view that individuals act according to how they interpret events. The theory indicates that human beings attach meanings to symbols, and then they behave according to the meaning.  The theory analyzes society by explaining the subjective meanings that individuals attach to objects, events, and behaviors. The meanings are given based on individual beliefs and not facts.  The society is thus constructed based on the interpretations of human beings, and the interpretations contribute to informing social bonds. The theory is crucial in explaining some of the events witnessed in Dalia’s character. For instance, the theory can be used to explain why Dalia drinks alcohol even when all objective medical evidence shows the negative consequences of consuming alcohol. From the theory, an expert can deduce that Dalia as a young person is well informed about the risks of drinking alcohol, but she also thinks that drinking alcohol is cool and that she will be safe from harm. She may also believe that drinking will send a positive image to her peers and thus, the symbolic meaning of drinking overrides the facts regarding drinking and risk. As a professional, it is, therefore, crucial to investigate the significance of alcohol from Dalia’s perspective.

Labeling theory

The theory states that people behave in ways that reflect how others label them. For instance, labeling or treating an individual as a criminal can encourage an individual to engage in criminal acts. The theory focuses on the social construction of an individual as a process that involved interactions with others.  In the case of Dalia, it is prudent to identify what the parents and the teachers think of Dalia. If the teachers think that she is a failure compared to sister, then Dalia is likely to engage in activities that are common among failures, for example, being physically aggressive and engaging in verbal combats with whoever challenges her behavior.  

The Social Learning Theory

The theory is based on socialization and how it impacts the development of the self. The theory indicates that the formation of an individual’s identity is a learned response to social stimuli. The theory postulates those individuals’ identities result from the individuals’ modeling in response to other people’s expectations (Bottomore, 2012). The people surrounding a person will reinforce and encourage the behaviors and attitudes of that person. In the case of Dalia, it is crucial to find out who the friends of Dalia are and their behavior both in school and at home.  There exist a higher likelihood that Dalia’s drinking or threatening nature is as a result of associating with friends who drink alcohol or threatening to society.

Developing Mutually Agreed-Upon Goals

I would discuss with Dalia about her behaviors and those of her friends, and I would help her avoid those friends that I believe are likely to influence her behavior negatively.  I would also investigate what Dalia parent thinks of Dalia concerning her older sister. I would advise that they avoid making her feel less inferior to her sister, and I would recommend that the parents talk to the teachers regarding the issue.  I would also discuss with Dalia the issue of symbolic interactionism and would help her understand the effects of attaching good meanings to bad behaviors as they often lead to wrong interpretations (Kratochwill et al., 2012)   

Application of the Client’s Strengths


From the discussions, it was apparent that Dalia is willing to change her character. This is evident from her acceptance of a position as a camp counselor in the summer. I would use her willingness to advise her to avoid friends who lead her into lousy behavior such as drinking alcohol. I would also encourage her to focus on her education as it may help her surpass what people think of her. 


Dalia seems enthusiastic to gain her parents’ attention.   I would, therefore, use her enthusiasm to build the relationship between Dalia and her parents by encouraging her to communicate effectively with them and to seek their guidance whenever she has issues.

Intervention strategies

Behavioral therapy- Dalia should undergo either cognitive behavioral therapy or aversion therapy. The cognitive-behavioral therapy with the treatment centered around her thoughts and beliefs could help her control her verbal combativeness. The long-term results of the therapy may include a change in behavior and thinking patterns (Sperry, Neitzel, & Engelhardt-Wells, 2010). On the contrary, aversion therapy could be used to treat alcoholism.

Non-contingent reinforcement- a non-contingent reinforcement is perfect for a student who seeks attention. It involves understanding that students will participate in problem behaviors if they are reinforced. One technique of reducing the utility of the behavior is saturating the environment with the reinforcer before the student demonstrates the disruptive behavior(Sperry, Neitzel, & Engelhardt-Wells, 2010). For instance, in the case of Dalia, Dalia’s parents may decide to rich out to Dalia occasionally and not wait for her to seek them. As such, Dalia will not need to engage in activities that will attract their attention. The strategy could also be applicable to Dalia’s school.

Antecedent Modification

Antecedent modification strategies are used to help students who want to escape some activities. In such cases, the antecedents should be modified to increase task engagement. The strategy could work to get Dalia to participate in extracurricular activities. 

Ethical Issues


The issue of respect was witnessed between Dalia and her mother arguing openly and also between Dalia’s parents disagreeing openly in Dalia’s presence. I would advise Dalia on the importance of behaving ethically, regardless of the situation. I would also advise her parents to avoid arguing in front of children because it causes the children to disobey them, and may also engage in such acts in society.

Law compliance

It was unethical and illegal for Dalia to drink alcohol, yet she is underage. I would advise and reinforce the idea of abiding by the law.


Ethical individuals acknowledge and accept personal accountability for the quality of their decisions and omissions (Bersoff, 2008). Dalia is accountable for her actions, and she should, therefore, focus on making wise decisions.

Cultural Competence

The main issue concerning cultural competence was witnessed between Dalia’s parents.  Their cultural differences impacted their parental roles and affected Dalia negatively. I would recommend a brief family therapy for the parents where they can learn more about parenting and solving issues within the family without affecting the children.  


Bersoff, D. N. (2008). Ethical conflicts in psychology. American Psychological Association.

Bottomore, T. B. (2012). Sociology as Social Criticism (Routledge Revivals). Routledge.

Kratochwill, T. R., Hoagwood, K. E., Kazak, A. E., Weisz, J. R., Hood, K., Vargas, L. A., & Banez, G. A. (2012). Practice-Based Evidence for Children and Adolescents: Advancing the Research Agenda in Schools. School Psychology Review, 41(2), 215–235.Sperry, L., Neitzel, J., & Engelhardt-Wells, K. (2010). Peer-mediated instruction and intervention strategies for students with autism spectrum disorders. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 54(4), 256-264.

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